THE announcement by the National Records of Scotland of a further six per cent increase in drug-related deaths, with over 1,200 in 2019 is truly shocking. It is a sad indictment of this Government’s drug policy, which has overseen drug-related deaths rising every year for six years.

These figures are the worst in Europe and three-and-a-half times higher than in England and Wales. Yet again, we should reflect on the domestic policy performance of this SNP government to understand their priority.

As usual, all will be well with independence. This single, myopic focus on independence is to the detriment of the wellbeing and living standards of all Scots, with a catalogue of domestic failures.

From educational standards continually falling, right through to the dictatorial intervention by the State demonstrated by the introduction of the Smacking Bill, the discredited Named Persons Scheme and the ever changing-Hate Crime Bill.

We are governed by a party skilled in spin and misinformation and with Ministers clearly incapable of delivering their brief. The performance of the likes of Jeane Freeman, Health Minister and Joe FitzPatrick, Public Health minister, demonstrate the old saying of “ambition exceeding ability”.

This sits alongside the complete myth that is the solid performance of the First Minister during this Covid crisis. It seems that the numbers are indicating that proportionately there has been more Covid deaths than in England and the First Minister will not want the care-home debacle on her record, so that will be someone’s responsibility but not hers.

We are living in a country where this myopic focus on independence splits families, pits friends against friends, unnerves business and wealth creators, and casts our nation against another. We have become divided, insular and parochial, living within a grievance and blame culture, all driven by those at the top of Government.

It must now be time that the focus of policy must be to deliver the right domestic solutions without the constant reference to independence and working within one of the world’s most successful economic and social unions. Creating further barriers and division will pay no heed or respect to the awful numbers on drug deaths released this week.

Richard Allison, Edinburgh

Our duty of care towards others

THE pre-Christmas period is one of the few times in the year when families look forward to getting back together with their loved ones.

This Christmas, because of the Covid-19, is an exceptional time, and a testing one for all families.

Although the economy will recover from the series of lockdowns, the vulnerable, the elderly and the already ill who contract Covid, particularly if they fall seriously ill, might not.

Each of us have a duty of care, not only to ourselves, but also to protect others that we still care about.

We are living through tough times. Most of us have enjoyed many Christmasses and look forward to more.

Let us have a quiet Christmas 2020, so that we can look forward to Christmas 2021 with those whom we put first this year.

A. Halliday, Newton Mearns, Glasgow

Lessons from the Netherlands

THE Netherlands have just announced a total lockdown for five weeks as a result of a major increase in Covid levels throughout the country.

My son, who owns a bar/restaurant in Friesland, in the north of Holland, has highlighted to me how the country celebrates Christmas. “Sinterclaas” (Dutch Father Christmas) arrives in every town and village accompanied by the now controversial (and possibly being barred in the near future, for racial reasons) Zwarte Piet, or “Black Pete”.

Their arrival at the beginning of December, normally by boat on the canals around the country, brings about vast parades and gatherings of adults and excited children. This year has been no exception. It is therefore no surprise that approximately two weeks later, there has been such a massive spike in the virus levels throughout the country.

The message for our festivities at Christmas and the New Year is – beware!

George Beagrie, Kilwinning

In memory of Albert ‘The Tank’

AS a child I never understood why our Dads would disappear on Saturday afternoons and stand in the freezing cold, getting soaked, so that they could watch other men chasing a ball and getting covered in mud as they frequently fell over. What was that all about?

Then earlier this week, on Radio 4, I heard ‘Soul Music’. The music chosen by many listeners (and they told why they had chosen it) was ‘Sunshine On Leith’. I did not know the music or The Proclaimers before this morning but after listening to the programme I now have a clearer understanding of what football matches are possibly all about. I think!

Online, I found the little film of the Hibs spectators’ rendition of ‘Sunshine On Leith’ as they sang it on May 22, 2016, and it was quite amazing.

I don’t think that the spectators at the Prescot Cables, Lancs, matches sang like that when one of their favourite players, Albert (The Tank) Jelly scored, but according to my father it was all worthwhile being there, and getting cold and wet.

Thelma Edwards, Hume, Kelso

Remembering John le Carré

AS a lifelong reader of the works of John le Carré I was desperately sorry to read of his passing (obituary, December 16).

I remember as a young man being utterly riveted by one of his earlier books, The Spy Who Came in for the Cold, with its depiction of the unglamorous, humdrum and often dangerous world of espionage, miles from the unrealistic world of James Bond.

D. McDonald, Glasgow